Twas the night before Louisville and all through the dorm, little trash had been talked, far from the norm. Tomorrow marks possibly the biggest game played in Rupp Arena between the Cats and Cards and for the past week things have been pretty quiet from both teams. Nobody knows just what to expect from the squads. You have Louisville who hasn’t played anybody all season defending their national championship with a top ten ranking. Then you have the Cats ranked in the top 20 despite dropping 3 games to ranked opponents. The tough schedule may have resulted in early losses but it is going to help the team meet Cal’s keys to victory from earlier today. Here’s why I think the tough schedule has the Cats ready for Louisville:
Look like a team.
One of the best factors in determining a team’s worth is their KenPom rating. Tomorrow the Cats will be taking on the highest rated KenPom team in Louisville who ranks 1st in offense and 6th in defensive efficiency. If the Cats are going to win they will indeed need to play like a team as they did earlier this year against Providence. That game they got a major performance from WCS who nearly got a triple double with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 blocks. A spark plug like that can open things up in a major way for the rest of the team and help key a win. They need to start first with effort:
Play with more energy.
On the Kenpom ratings the Cats are no slouches as they rank 6th in offensive efficiency. However they need to step up defensively in a major way and that will begin with energy. UK has come a long way since the lazy defense and effort they showcased against Michigan State which proved to be too much to overcome. The team has an understanding of the effort needed to beat other elite teams after playing MSU, Baylor, and UNC. Will will win when wishing won’t. The Cats need to bring willpower to the floor of Rupp Arena because that is what will get them through adversity.
When adversity hits, we’ve got to respond
Against Baylor adversity hit and the Cats folded. Against UNC and the Spartans the Cats fell behind but battled back before running out of time. Tomorrow is sure to be filled with plenty of intensity and plenty of runs. You can expect nothing less in a rivalry game. During those stretches the Cats will need to find what it was that allowed them to claw back from deficits. With a rowdy home crowd you can expect the team to find the edge that just wasn’t there when they were out on the road.
The Cards have been bet up in Vegas due to playing a weak schedule. If the Cats played those exact same teams in the exact places you could easily see them as undefeated and holding on to the number one ranking. Instead the Cats are now battle tested and ready to overcome whatever the Cards try to toss out tomorrow. Do you think the Cats’ tough schedule has them ready for the big game? Or are they just not ready for the big stage just yet?